“Weirdos and Misfits with odd skills” Wanted – No. 10, LRDG, SOE, Commandos, GCHQ and Bletchley Park

Dominic Cummings, some Tory Brexit politico adviser, in his blog set out a Churchillian request for hiring people to make No. 10 and the Civil Service (and his Brexit / post Brexit team) much less ” public school bluffers” and “Oxbridge English graduates”, more “misfits and weirdos“.

He writes: “We want to hire an unusual set of people with different skills and backgrounds to work in Downing Street with the best officials, some as spads (special advisers to ministers) and perhaps some as officials. If you are already an official and you read this blog and think you fit one of these categories, get in touch.” He says the categories he wants to recruit are:

  • Data scientists and software developers
  • Economists
  • Policy experts
  • Project managers
  • Communication experts
  • Junior researchers – “one of whom will also be my personal assistant”

Send your CV to Mr Cummings if you think this applies to you. You may only last a week, in our “hired and you’re fired” modern world, as instant dismissal is threatened, in which case you will no doubt be known as a “Cummings and Goings.”

Well intentioned and headline grabbing as it may be, the whole “weirdos and misfits” thing is a gift to cartoonists and satirists.

Oddly Mr. Cummings forgot to mention on his list: wargamers and “board game geeks”.

Not so long ago, top secret GCHQ was publicly looking for a more diverse modern workforce of “spooks” and “spies wanted

I am reminded of Churchill’s wartime request to “leave no stone unturned” to recruit the right people to staff Bletchley Park and SOE. Part of GCHQ’s ancestry, Bletchley recruited a strange team of debutantes, crossword puzzle champions, Post Office engineers, mathematicians, linguists and graduate oddities to break German cyphers.

Too busy to read? Just watch the cinema shorthand, myth-making movie versions of such an eccentric cast of characters: Robert Harris’ Enigma and the Imitation Game.

After meeting Alan Turing and his other eccentric colleagues at Bletchley Park, Winston Churchill reportedly said to MI6’s Stewart Menzies, “I know I told you to leave no stone unturned to find the necessary staff, but I didn’t mean you to take me so literally.”

Extraordinary jobs require unusual people. Polar explorer Ernest Shackleton would agree!

Which is why my mind straight way turned to SOE, inspired by Churchill “to set Europe ablaze”, Bletchley Park, inventive backroom boffins, the Commandos and the scruffy but tough and talented Long Range Desert Group. All the cast of Mr Churchill’s Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare as they were termed in a recent book title.

St Nazaire? See the inspiring terrain with the promise of vintage Airfix Commandos https://gridbasedwargaming.blogspot.com/2020/01/st-nazaire-raid-project-more-terrain.html

 

Such people and characters in small teams are perfect for small scale gaming scenarios.

Weirdos and Misfits wanted? Small teams of characters (figures) who can see what is going on in this gridded aerial reconnaissance photo and improvise a plan when it is not what it seems …

What can you see?

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2020/01/02/aerial-reconnaissance-photos-western-desert-1941/

 

As pointed out in my comment to the vintage Airfix inspired Tradgardmastre himself,

“Sketch map in preparation by Desert Air Force Intelligence Officers, ready to brief some scouting parties of LRDG (D) – D For Demolition.

This is a mixed bag made up of various disruptive elements from the Royal Angrian Defence Force from West Africa (Bronte ImagiNations), some men of the Yestershire Regiment (Man of TIN Imaginations), various other upper class desert traveller, novelist and travel writer misfits, and some Royal Engineers and Commandos in training.

Two tooled up long range fast Desert Jeeps called “Ragtag” and “Bobtail” (Pound Store finest) being prepared.”

Vintage 1960s Airfix LMG teams and modern China plastic tat playset jeeps.

So a quick bit of internet searching brought me to various LRDG websites, seeking the childhood memory of LRDG box lids of Tamiya and unavailable vintage Matchbox LRDG kits (oddly featured in January 2020 Airfix Model World).

https://www.scalemates.com/kits/matchbox-pk-173-lrdg-30cwt-chevrolet-willys-jeep–130346

So preparing my teams, here are the vintage Airfix LRDG and 8th Army desert teams:

Vintage Airfix OO HO 8th Army (version 1) from my childhood collection and Tony Adams’ gift

Vintage Airfix 1960s Commandos and crawling woolly hatted (version 1) 8th Army
OMG! Vintage Airfix SMG, LMG and HMG teams – Airfix Commandos & 1960s 8th Army

Research and further inspiration:

https://gridbasedwargaming.blogspot.com/2020/01/st-nazaire-raid-project-more-terrain.html

LRDG Preservation Society (Research and Reenactment) website http://www.lrdg.org

Combined Ops Website https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2019/12/01/man-of-tin-advent-calendar-day-1-the-greek-sacred-squadron-combined-ops-1940-to-1945-ww2

I’m doing Popski on the cheap with vintage Airfix, inspired by this article in Wargames Illustrated Infamous Squads issue November December 2019

Donald Featherstone ‘Wargaming Commando Operations’ http://www.wargaming.co/recreation/details/dflosttalesvol2.htm

Weirdos and Misfits – your country needs you!

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN on 3 January 2020

And finally for The Tradgardmastre on LRDG Buffs Film Club:

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0053935/mediaviewer/rm2816642305

14 thoughts on ““Weirdos and Misfits with odd skills” Wanted – No. 10, LRDG, SOE, Commandos, GCHQ and Bletchley Park”

  1. During peacetime, all the weirdos and misfits are of course already working to make society better, they can be found it university laboratories, in start-up companies etc. It’s only during wartime that suddenly all that lingering creativity needs to be channeled a bit more urgently … 😉

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  2. Looks like a splendid force you have assembled. The Airfix chaps have painted up well and look a formidable fighting force. The transport looks the part and all one needs is the mission itself. If you need to recruit any particular Airfix misfits I will rummage in the box and see what I can find. Finally what a splendid film still you have come up with.

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    1. Thanks Alan, I look forward to seeing what you do with your Misfits first from your box of assorted Vintage Airfix. A little more stowage required on the jeeps to look the part.
      Mission brewing.
      Worth looking through the IMDB website Media viewer link as it has assorted film posters in foreign languages for Ice Cold in Alex.

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  3. As Johnson et al seem to believe they are living in a wartime bunker (presumably the enemy being all those traitors who don’t agree with them) then I guess that this fits very well. Perhaps it should read “Weirdos and Misfits (do what they’re told) required”?

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    1. As a potential misfit and weirdo, I couldn’t possibly comment!
      As an Ice Cold in Alex – Anthony Quayle – potential traitor to this particular mindset, I will not be applying.
      I have yet to (as in probably never will) read the Johnson book on Churchill and leadership.
      That’s about as Political (with a big P) as this Man of TIN blog is likely to get.

      Speaking truth unto power is usually a dangerous game. However, in my ImagiNations games, and those of the Brontes ImagiNations, leaders do not get it all their own way and sometimes get their come-uppance or rescued quite spectacularly and quickly in a way that thankfully really happens in real life (sort of “Infamy, Infamy, they’ve all got it infamy”). At last a potential chance to use my Atlantic Russian Revolution set with tiny Lenin or tiny Stalin types , add in a tiny vintage Airfix Hitler type figures from the sixties German Infantry Version I. As Donald Featherstone would say, (in gaming nobody gets hurt) No lead orphans, no lead widows etc.
      Maybe I should round off all the film references by heading off to watch The Eagle Has Landed for future inspiration.

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  4. Excellent post, even if you did mention the B word. Can’t wait to hear about the raid. The aerial photo is intriguing. That’s not some sort of dastardly V-weapon I can see bottom right, is it? And why is that stores dump painted bright white – a cunning dazzle trick, or a decoy to draw attention from the troops lurking in the darker recesses?

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    1. Intriguing guesses! Maybe nothing sinister is happening at all? All will no doubt be revealed on the ground when the usual rule that “all plans work until they make contact with the enemy” no doubt applies. Briefing map to shortly follow.
      The B-word will not be mentioned again if I can avoid it .

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  5. If you’re interested in Bletchley Park, I can recommend the BBC radio comedy Hut 33, about the most incompetent codebreaking team of the lot.

    I also really, REALLY enjoyed RV Jones’ memoir “The Wizard Wars.” He was Churchill’s top scientific advisor, ran the back-and-forth “battle” of radio and radar improvement and defense, and was the instigator of the Bruneval raid on a radar station (which would make interesting inspiration for a game). He was also something of a practical joker, which is probably why he was so good at hoodwinking his Nazi opposite numbers.

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